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Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) — January 2000


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 25, no. 1 (January 2000)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Popocatepetl (Mexico) Increased number of exhalations and new dome growth in late February

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2000. Report on Popocatepetl (Mexico) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 25:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200001-341090



19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5393 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

This report covers the period from early January to 26 February 2000. After five months of quiescence, in October 1999 the monitoring system detected a slightly increased rate and intensity of exhalations. Low-level deformation began in early January 2000. Data from GOES hot-spot monitoring also indicated increasing thermal activity at the volcano crater.

In February 2000, the exhalation rate increased and low-level harmonic tremors began, suggesting the beginning of a new dome growth episode. These conditions led to an increase in alert status, from Yellow-1 to Yellow-2. Overall, the increased levels of activity were lower, however, than those detected in 1997 or 1998.

On 25 February, observers on a helicopter flight looking into the summit crater confirmed the presence of a small blocky lava dome. The new dome was growing at the center of the crater produced by the explosions that destroyed the previous dome during late 1998-early 1999. The new dome's diameter was slightly over 50 m, and it stood about 11 m high. The surface of the dome appeared to be formed by large light-gray blocks. A portable thermal scanner in the helicopter targeting the center of the dome gave a maximum temperature of about 340°C. The lava production rate around this time seemed to be at least one order of magnitude lower than in the previous episodes.

Geological Summary. Volcán Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, rises 70 km SE of Mexico City to form North America's 2nd-highest volcano. The glacier-clad stratovolcano contains a steep-walled, 400 x 600 m wide crater. The generally symmetrical volcano is modified by the sharp-peaked Ventorrillo on the NW, a remnant of an earlier volcano. At least three previous major cones were destroyed by gravitational failure during the Pleistocene, producing massive debris-avalanche deposits covering broad areas to the south. The modern volcano was constructed south of the late-Pleistocene to Holocene El Fraile cone. Three major Plinian eruptions, the most recent of which took place about 800 CE, have occurred since the mid-Holocene, accompanied by pyroclastic flows and voluminous lahars that swept basins below the volcano. Frequent historical eruptions, first recorded in Aztec codices, have occurred since Pre-Columbian time.

Information Contacts: Servando De la Cruz-Reyna1,2, Roberto Quaas1,2; Carlos Valdés G.2, and Alicia Martinez Bringas1. 1-Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED), Delfin Madrigal 665, Col. Pedregal de Santo Domingo, Coyoacán, 04360, México D.F. (URL: https://www.gob.mx/cenapred/); 2-Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM, Coyoacán 04510, México D.F., México; HIGP/SOEST, University of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/).